Frederick Douglass Quotes



“What to the Slave is the 4th of July.”

"One and God make a majority."

"The price of liberty is eternal vigilance."

"What is possible for me is possible for you."

"If there is no struggle, there is no progress."

“The soul that is within me no man can degrade.”

"It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men."

"The thing worse than rebellion is the thing that causes rebellion."

“I didn't know I was a slave until I found out I couldn't do the things I wanted”

“I prayed for twenty years but received no answer until I prayed with my legs.”

“The white man's happiness cannot be purchased by the black man's misery”

“To suppress free speech is a double wrong. It violates the rights of the hearer as well as those of the speaker.”

"We have to do with the past only as we can make it useful to the present and the future."

"People might not get all they work for in this world, but they must certainly work for all they get."

“No man can put a chain about the ankle of his fellow man without at last finding the other end fastened about his own neck”

"I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and to incur my own abhorrence."

“I recognize the Republican party as the sheet anchor of the colored man's political hopes and the ark of his safety”

“Be not discouraged. There is a future for you. . . . The resistance encountered now predicates hope. . . . Only as we rise . . . do we encounter opposition.”

"America cannot always sit as a queen in peace and repose. Prouder and stronger governments than hers have been shattered by the bolts of a just God.

"it becomes the Christian duty of the people of this country to rebuke the contemptuous disregard of Christianity by our political organizations."

"This right of speech is very dear to the hearts of intelligent lovers of liberty. It is the delight of the lovers of liberty, as it is the dread and terror of tyrants."

“I expose slavery in this country, because to expose it is to kill it. Slavery is one of those monsters of darkness to whom the light of truth is death”

“I am a Republican, a black, dyed in the wool Republican, and I never intend to belong to any other party than the party of freedom and progress”

“I am for the "immediate, unconditional, and universal" enfranchisement of the black man, in every State in the Union

"I hold that women, as well as men, have the right to vote [applause], and my heart and voice go with the movement to extend suffrage to woman."

"Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground."

"No class of men can, without insulting their own nature, be content with any deprivation of their rights."

"Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have the exact measure of the injustice and wrong which will be imposed on them."

"Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is in an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob, and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe."

"If the Negro knows enough to pay taxes to support the government, he knows enough to vote; taxation and representation should go together. If he knows enough to shoulder a musket and fight for the flag, fight for the government, he knows enough to vote."

"The story of our inferiority is an old dodge, as I have said; for wherever men oppress their fellows, wherever they enslave them, they will endeavor to find the needed apology for such enslavement and oppression in the character of the people oppressed and enslaved."

"A battle lost or won is easily described, understood, and appreciated, but the moral growth of a great nation requires reflection, as well as observation, to appreciate it."

"By depriving us of suffrage, you affirm our incapacity to form an intelligent judgment respecting public men and public measures; you declare before the world that we are unfit to exercise the elective franchise, and by this means lead us to undervalue ourselves, to put a low estimate upon ourselves, and to feel that we have no possibilities like other men."

"The honor of a nation is an important thing. It is said in the Scriptures, "What doth it profit a man if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" It may be said, also, What doth it profit a nation if it gain the whole world, but lose its honor? I hold that the American government has taken upon itself a solemn obligation of honor, to see that this war--let it be long or short, let it cost much or let it cost little--that this war shall not cease until every freedman at the South has the right to vote."

"A great many delusions have been swept away by this war. One was, that the Negro would not work; he has proved his ability to work. Another was, that the Negro would not fight; that he possessed only the most sheepish attributes of humanity; was a perfect lamb, or an "Uncle Tom;" disposed to take off his coat whenever required, fold his hands, and be whipped by anybody who wanted to whip him. But the war has proved that there is a great deal of human nature in the Negro, and that "he will fight,"

"It is only about six centuries since the blue-eyed and fair-haired Anglo-Saxons were considered inferior by the haughty Normans, who once trampled upon them. If you read the history of the Norman Conquest, you will find that this proud Anglo-Saxon was once looked upon as of coarser clay than his Norman master, and might be found in the highways and byways of Old England laboring with a brass collar on his neck, and the name of his master marked upon it. You were down then! [Laughter and applause.] You are up now. I am glad you are up, and I want you to be glad to help us up also."

"I do not go back to America to sit still, remain quiet, and enjoy ease and comfort. . . . I glory in the conflict, that I may hereafter exult in the victory. I know that victory is certain. I go, turning my back upon the ease, comfort, and respectability which I might maintain even here. . . Still, I will go back, for the sake of my brethren. I go to suffer with them; to toil with them; to endure insult with them; to undergo outrage with them; to lift up my voice in their behalf; to speak and write in their vindication; and struggle in their ranks for the emancipation which shall yet be achieved."


Compiled by Thomas George
editor@Wisdom-of-the-Wise.com